Wow, OK. I wasnít going to post until tonight, but Howard Fineman, usually one of the best and brightest, over at the Huffington Post, wrote the following:
ďAfter an hour-and-a-half flight and two cups of coffee, I knew this: The fellow was as vivid an explanation as there could be for why President Barack Obama is in the fight of his life against the newly nominated Republican ticket.
My seatmate (whose name I canít use because his employer would have fits if he spoke publicly) is a 44-year-old African-American Army vet and married man. He describes himself as apolitical but is a registered Republican who reads national newspapers on his iPhone.Ē
Sooooooo, a black republican is somehow typical of Dems? Typical of the Presidentís base? Shocking, a black republican is not going to vote for the President. How, Mr. Fineman, is this reflective of the community mindset and turnout of minorities around the country? What normally happens here, after my head explodes, is that I decide to walk away. I decide, the media elites donít get it, and that, often, white writers simply donít get black people at all, probably because the only ones they seem to know they meet on short plane rides.
Today is different, mostly because today Iím working at JJP (Jack and Jill Politics) and I have the space actually to engage in a little frustrated rant.
When something like this happens my first thought is, Howard Fineman can kiss my ass. My second thought is ó Howard Fineman doesnít know any black people. At all.
However, Howard Fineman is from South West PA; I know he knows more black people than the person on the plane. Yet he has decided, for whatever reason, that this guy typifies issues with and about the President.
BET ran a poll recently and the information in it isnít all that complicated or surprising. Except, I guess to Fineman. Feel free to look at the whole break down; Iíll give you the highlights:
- Black people love President Obama. Shocking?
- They are going to vote for President Obama. Shocking?
- They are unhappy with high systemic unemployment. Shocking?
- They donít blame the President; they blame an obstructionist congress hell bent on dismantling the middle class. Shocking?
They blame republicans, and, they should. The poll doesnít explicitly say that is whom they blame. However, I really wanted to add that into my argument, my meme, so what I did was employ the same methodology Fineman used for his piece. I asked a black person sitting next to me what he thought.
I am pleased to tell you all that it is safe to report that one black person sitting next to me believes that republicans have blocked all means of economic stimulus in an effort to win an election and unseat the first black president. Shocking? Not so much. Know why? Because it is absolutely true.
The GOP came in in 2008, shell-shocked. They believed, incorrectly, that the majority of America was too racist to vote for President Obama. They thought heíd lose. But, because they too it seems get their information from a lone black guy, Mike Steele in this case, they assumed that it was only the economy that did it. That President Obama wouldnít be good at the job. Then he began rolling them up like Alabama rolled up Michigan.
And, panic set in.
Rush, Mitch and the others
Suddenly, the Rush Limbaugh tag line, ďI hope he fails,Ē seemed less funny and more urgent.
Suddenly, the President passing a sophisticated, shockingly powerful, stimulus bill, (Read The New New Deal for a critique of the Stim bill that will explain why the GOP panicked) Credit Card Reform, Student Loan Reform, scared them. With able partners in Pelosi and a surprisingly deft Reid, it appeared that this white house was going to pass its entire eight year agenda in two years. They almost made it. (Also, check out Please Cut the Crapís Blog on the 200 accomplishments of President Obama.)
Mitch McConnell had to slow down the President and he enlisted every trick in the book. Helped by conservative Dems like Ben Nelson, Max Baucus Ė though Sen. Baucus changed his tune and started pulling his weight after August 2009 Ė and of course Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, progress began to slow. But President Obama, in a brilliant lame duck session finished much of what he started and got almost everything, the DREAM Act failed at the last minute, but DADT repeal passed.
Black people ain’t stupid
What Mr. Fineman doesnít get, or doesnít care to get, is that black people arenít stupid. And, this is what is going on in the media. White journalists seem convinced that black people are abandoning the President. How many new articles are there today that state the same meme? Dems are abandoning the President, Blacks, are, Women areÖ well, this just in ó President Obama has 3.1 individual contributors. That is individual distinct people giving money. That is 100,000 more people than in 2008. When this kind of disconnect is pointed out to the media, that people maybe be less dancing in the streets than 2008 but are solid for the President, †they go seeking any disgruntled person they can find in order to ďprove,Ē that black people are abandoning the President.
Let me make this quick sports analogy. The backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town. He never has to play, and no matter how good the starter is people can find fault because no one is perfect. Mitt Romney is the back up QB. He seems popular, but in reality, it is just that he hasnít had to take the field. This week, the Dems get to put Mitt Romney and his record in play. The debates are the same thing.
Black people havenít abandoned the President. Our unemployment remains stubbornly high for two reasons; the GOP contracted State Government by refusing to support a second stimulus. (though they will absolutely push one through if they win in Nov) and blacks are disproportionately represented in public sector jobs. The GOP has gutted everything from police, to teachers, to postal workers, nurses, firefighters, municipal employees of all sorts.
Donít believe me? Do a Google search on black unemployment and here are the types of hits you get:
All these links and hundreds more talking about the conflation between the African American middle class and public employment. The reason blacks are over represented in public sector jobs? They are the least likely to be discriminatory, and they are the most secure. At least they used to be.
Look, I like Howard Fineman. I could spend the next three thousand words taking him for a ride, I wonít. But let me say this, it didnít take me an hour and a half and bad airline coffee talking to a black republican to come up with the reality behind the massive unemployment gap for blacks. And, Howard Fineman should realize that weíre not idiots. We know what the GOP is doing and we know why they are doing it. We get it. And, while we arenít thrilled as a community with everything the President has done Ė to assume we should be is to assume that white America should be thrilled with everything every white president does. Does that make any sense at all? Weíre not monolithic; we arenít characters in a book youíre reading or actors in a play about race. We know a few things; we live real lives. We know enough to realize that when people talk about trickledown economics that trickle ainít economics.
We know enough to know that the GOP doesnít have our best interests at heart. In a desire to be fair, in a desire to file a story, I guess, Fineman, sitting next to a black republican, seemed to believe he had divined a secret, a hidden gem of information. Let me disabuse him of that notion. I bet Clarence Thomas isnít voting for the President either. Shocking?
This piece first appeared at†Jack and Jill Politics
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais